By Janee Law
The owners of Skipper’s Pub in Northport have filed a lawsuit in Suffolk County Supreme Court seeking to have a rejection of their application to have rooftop dining set aside.
“We run a very good establishment and we’re disappointed that the town wasn’t willing to work with us at all,” said Marie Gallowitsch, who owns Skipper’s Pub with her husband, Paul. “It seems like a lot of people wanted it, so we decided to pursue it further.”
The Gallowitsches filed the suit in December against the the Village of Northport and the Zoning Board of Appeals, stating that the decision to reject their application was “arbitrary and capricious.”
“We think that the denial was not according to the law that applies and we’re asking the court to set it aside,” said Skipper’s Pub attorney Linda Margolin. “They’re hoping to get the approvals necessary so they can create a lovely place where people can dine on the rooftop.”
The suit was served to the village on Monday. A court hearing in Riverhead is schedule for Feb. 29.
“The zoning board is going to defend their decision,” said Village Attorney Stuart Besen. “I don’t believe a court is going to overturn it and it’s certainly not arbitrary and capricious. It’s a very well reasoned decision by the zoning board.”
The $400,000 Skipper’s Pub project, which proposed 109 rooftop seats and a bar over a total of 2,750 square feet, was initially announced at the zoning board public hearing in July and then further discussed at another meeting in September.
At the final decision on Nov. 19, the board unanimously denied the project, stating that the application didn’t have enough proof to justify a variance on the village’s requirement that expansions provide more off-street parking and that rooftop dining is not a permitted use in the zoning district.
“We think that the zoning board of appeals was selective in a way that it’s not allowed to be because there are numerous other businesses in the village that have been able to expand or change their use and avoid providing the parking per code for many of these downtown businesses,” Margolin said, adding that there’s no land to which the Gallowitsches can provide parking.
“We thought at least they’d be willing to discuss and they weren’t so we’d like to hear some more about it,” Marie said.
According to the zoning board decision in November, residents of the community who were in favor of the proposal expressed that the Gallowitsches have been loyal supporters of village initiatives.
However, others were concerned about the possible noise and parking issues.
“Skippers wants to continue to be a vibrant attractive place for dinning and they think this is a great idea,” Margolin said. “They think it’ll be a great amenity for the village of Northport and people who come there and I imagine it will.”